What’s a COVID-19 Long Hauler?
Have you recently heard the term COVID-19 long hauler and wondered what that was? You may have also had COVID-19 and are still experiencing residual side effects even though you have tested negative. You aren’t alone. Most people who have had COVID-19 typically get better within a few weeks, however, some people struggle for months with long-term symptoms. It is estimated that 10% of COVID-19 patients become what is known as a long hauler patient, but other sources say up to 25%-30%.
A long hauler patient is someone who is experiencing long-term symptoms of COVD-19 but no longer tests positive. The long-term effects can last from weeks to months and don’t seem to affect anyone in particular. From patients who have had mild cases to those who have been hospitalized, there hasn’t been a pattern established to determine who becomes a long hauler or not.
What are the long-term side effects?
Some of the long-term side-effects of COVID-19 are the following:
- Body aches
- Brain fog
- Loss of taste and smell
- Joint pain
- Difficulty sleeping
- Shortness of breath
- Fast or pounding heartbeat
- Organ damage
Since COVID-19 is still relatively new, there is no knowing what determines who gets these long-term effects at this time and what other long-term effects there could be in the future. There have been findings that physical therapy can help with these long-term side effects of COVID-19. There are ways to help alleviate these symptoms and here at Forward Motion Physical Therapy, we want to help those who need help managing these symptoms.
How can Physical Therapy Help?
Some of the ways physical therapy can help with these long-term side effects are:
- Shortness of breath
- Muscle pain
- Joint pain
How can physical therapy help with fatigue? Physical therapy can improve strength and endurance to increase the ability to do your everyday activities longer with less rest.
Shortness of breath:
The way physical therapy can help with shortness of breath is by improving your cardiovascular endurance and improve your lung capacity.
As we know, physical therapy is excellent for treating joint pain because motion helps alleviate stiffness in the joints, and improves your range of motion. Physical therapy will improve your mobility and decrease pain.
Physical therapy will help strengthen your muscles that are weak due to lack of use, help lengthen your muscles, improve mobility, and help you use your muscles properly to prevent injury and move with less pain.
Physical therapy can help improve headaches by making sure your headaches aren’t arising from your neck, muscle tension, tightness, and lack of neck motion.
What else can you do to help alleviate your symptoms?
Because COVID-19 is still so new (even though it feels like it’s been around forever) research is still being done on how to help those who suffer from long-term COVID-19 side-effects and how to give them the best treatment possible. Home remedies for treating long-haul symptoms are also great ways to help with recovery in addition to physical therapy and speaking to your doctor about their recommendations.
Some of the at-home treatments you can do are:
- Rest and take it easy when you are feeling fatigued.
- If you’re in pain frequently, talk to your doctor or physical therapist about recommendations for long-term pain management.
- Set achievable goals for yourself. If you get winded going up steps, set small goals for yourself for you to achieve so that you can ultimately walk up the steps without getting winded.
- Build your endurance and increase exercise levels gradually. Don’t overexert yourself and try to get to your pre-COVID exercise and endurance levels too fast. You’ll get there eventually, but it will take time. Speak to your physical therapist about building your endurance level.
- Practice some breathing exercises to help you restore lung capacity and diaphragm function.
We’re here to help!
Our physical therapists are here to help you get back on track and help improve any long-term COVD-19 side effects you may be experiencing. If you are dealing with long-hauler symptoms and aren’t sure if physical therapy will help you, come in for a complimentary, 30-minute physical therapy session to see if physical therapy is right for you. Call us at 973-400-3730 to schedule your appointment today. You may be amazed by the results!